Broad beans, peas and asparagus bring a verdant buzz to the kitchen this month, says Philippa Davis, making full use of this seasonal excess
I have mixed emotions about broad beans and certainly wasn’t always delighted to see the first basketful of the year. As a child, I disliked them immensely and always made sure the family dog was quietly sat at my feet to help me through the mountain on my plate.
Then, when I moved to London and started work as a chef at The River Café I remember how the excitement buzzed through the team when the first wooden crates of broad beans and peas arrived at the door. Along with artichokes, asparagus and soft fruits the kitchen suddenly felt in full seasonal mode with summer food swiftly promising to make an appearance.
Then there was the time I ran a café on Mudchute city farm and one of the young actors working front of house misheard my request to ‘shuck’ them for ‘chuck’ them. Amusing now; less so at the time.
CRAB AND SPRING VEG PASTA WITH GARLIC AND CHILLI BREADCRUMBS
You can use all three spring veg or make up the weight with just one or two of them.
- 1 large garlic clove, finely chopped
- 20g butter
- 1 dsp olive oil
- 100g breadcrumbs
- Pinch of dried chilli
- 1 tsp lemon zest
- 2 tbsp dry vermouth
- 200g crème fraîche
- 200g crab meat, I used a mix of brown and white
- 160g small-shaped pasta (I used spelt gigli rigati from Sharpham Park)
- 100g asparagus, trimmed and cut into 2cm lengths
- 100g peas
- 100g broad beans
- 2 tbsp lemon juice
- 2 tbsp finely chopped parsley
Add the garlic, butter and oil to a frying pan and place on a low heat. When the garlic just starts to take on a little colour add the breadcrumbs. Stirring well, cook for a couple of minutes so the bread turns golden and crispy. Mix in the lemon zest and chilli, then scoop onto a plate to cool.
In the same frying pan on a low heat, add the vermouth then crème fraîche and crab. Season and keep warm.
Meanwhile, in a large pan of salted boiling water cook the pasta.
Two minutes before the end of the cooking time add the spring veg.
When the pasta is cooked drain it, reserving a little of the water.
Add the pasta and veg to the crème fraîche, stir in the lemon juice and parsley.
Check the seasoning, then add a little of the pasta cooking water if you need to make it a bit more saucy, then pile onto two plates and scatter over the breadcrumbs.Eat straight away.